The Jews in Italy: Their Contribution to the Development and Diffusion of Jewish Heritage

The Jews in Italy: Their Contribution to the Development and Diffusion of Jewish Heritage


Edited by Yaron Harel and Mauro Perani 

ISBN: 9781644690253 (hardback)
Pages: 444 pp.; 4 tables; 7 illus.
Publication Date: August 2019

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All twenty-two original articles in the current volume are based on lectures given at the conference “The Jews in Italy: Their Contribution to the Development and Diffusion of Jewish Heritage,” which was convened in September 2011, at the University of Bologna, Department of Cultural Heritage (Ravenna campus). Geographically, the articles range from Italy to the Ottoman Empire (the Balkans and Aleppo), from France and Germany to the Middle East, including Israel, North and East Africa (Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, and Ethiopia). Chronologically, articles span from the Roman period, through the Middle Ages and Renaissance, to modern times. In this collection, the reader will find a wide range of subjects reflecting various scholarly perspectives, such as history; Christian-Jewish relations; Kabbalah; commentaries on the Bible and Talmud; language, grammar, and translation; literature; philosophy; gastronomy; art; culture; folklore; and education.

Yaron Harel is Dean of the Faculty of Jewish Studies and Full Professor at the department of Jewish History at Bar-Ilan University. He is the vice-chairman of the Israeli Historical Society, and incumbent of the Yekutiel and Hannah Klein Chair in the History the Rabbinate during the Modern Period, Bar-Ilan University. His research deals with political, social, and cultural history of the Jews in the Middle East in modern times. He published fourteen books and dozens of articles. His contribution to the field of Oriental Jewish history, especially in Syria, has been recognized in a series of awards, including the Ben-Zvi Prize for Research in Oriental Jewry (2004), and the Zalman Shazar Prize for Research in Jewish History (2009), the latter for the Hebrew edition of his book, Intrigue and Revolution in the Jewish Communities of Damascus, Aleppo, and Baghdad, 1744–1914, and the President’s Award (2010).

Mauro Perani is Full Professor of Hebrew at the University of Bologna, Department of Cultural Heritage. President of the European Association for Jewish Studies in 2006-2010, he is currently President of the Italian Association for Jewish Studies (AISG). In 2013, he discovered the oldest complete Sefer Torah, in the University of Bologna library. In the same year, he received a PhD honoris causa from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for his research on thousands of medieval Hebrew manuscripts reused in Italian archives as bindings in the 16th-18th centuries. Director and Editor of Materia Giudaica, journal of the AISG, he also founded the series Corpus Epitaphiorum Hebraicorum Italiae. He has worked on the “Italian Genizah Project” for thirty-five years, and is currently partaking in the “Books within Books” initiative as a Member of the Scientific Board. He is the author of a dozen volumes and more than four hundred articles.

Table of Contents



Roman Attitudes to Jews and Judaism in the First Century BCE
Miriam Ben Zeev


The Oldest Complete Extant Sefer Torah Rediscovered at the Bologna University Library: Codicological, Textual, and Paleographic Features of an Ancient Eastern Tradition
Mauro Perani

Palestinian and Babylonian Traditions in Italy at the Outset of the Middle Ages: The Yerushalmi in the Writings of R. Isaiah di Trani (the Rid)
Yaron Silverstein

Abraham de Balmes’s Miqneh Abram: An Adaptation of Modistic Concepts by a Hebrew Grammarian of the Renaissance
Dror Ben-Arié

The Anonymous Hebrew Translation of Giordano Ruffo’s De medicina equorum and Its Language
Michael Ryzhik

Between The Book of Jossipon and The Book of Jashar
Carmela Saranga

Italian Jewry and Kabbalistic Rites
Moshe Hallamish

Ladino Translations from Italy: The Bible, Pirke Avot, the Passover Haggadah, and the Siddur
Ora (Rodrigue) Schwarzwald

The Jews of France and Italy during the Later Middle Ages and the Renaissance
Shimon Schwarzfuchs

Torah and Nature in the Writings of Some Italian Jewish Thinkers of the Renaissance
Miguel Antonio Beltrán Munar

Prenuptial Agreements in Ketubot from Italy
Yoel Shilo


Jewish Ashkenazi Gastronomy in Northern Italy in the Early Modern Period: The Testimony of the Book Mitzvot Hanashim
Zahava Weishouse

The Depiction of Jesus’s Circumcision and Presentation in the Temple in Early Modern Paintings in Venice: Some Questions on Jesus’s Identity
Maria Portmann

Freemasonry and Saint-Simonism as Carriers of Enlightenment Values in David Levi’s Weltanschauung
Alessandro Grazi

The Unique Characteristics of Dybbuk Exorcisms in Rabbinic Documents from Eighteenth-Century Italy
Yaniv Goldberg

Rabbinic Ties between Italy and Aleppo in the Eighteenth Century
Leah Bornstein-Makovetsky


Jewish Solidarity: The Actions and Support of the Union of Italian Israelite Communities for the Jews of Libya and Ethiopia in the 1930s
Yitzhak Mualem

The Dispute between Italy and France in Tunisia: The Role of Language and the Position of Italian Jewry
Filippo Petrucci

Jews as Promoters of Italian Civilization in Libya
Rachel Simon

The Relations of the Holy See with the Jewish People after the 1993 Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel: Divergence between the Interreligious Dialogue with the Jews of Rome and the Diplomatic Dialogue with Israel
Eliav Taub

Primo Levi: Chemist/Writer, Italian/Jew
Smadar Shiffman

Jewish Educational Proposals in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Florence
Silvia Guetta